The Red Balloon (French: Le Ballon rouge) is a 1956 fantasy short film directed by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse.
The thirty-four minute short, which follows the adventures of a young boy who one day finds a sentient, mute, red balloon, was filmed in the Ménilmontant neighborhood of Paris, France.
It won numerous awards, including an Oscar for Lamorisse for writing the best original screenplay in 1956 and the Palme d’Or for short films at Cannes. The film also became popular with children and educators.
Lamorisse used his children as actors in the film. His son, Pascal Lamorisse, plays Pascal in the main role, and his daughter Sabine portrays a little girl.
The film, which has a music score but almost no dialogue, tells of Pascal (Pascal Lamorisse), who, on his way to school one morning, discovers a large helium-filled red balloon.
As Pascal plays with his new found toy, he realizes the balloon has a mind and will of its own. It begins to follow him wherever he goes, at times floating outside his bedroom window as Pascal’s mother will not allow it in their apartment.
The red balloon follows Pascal through the streets of Paris, and the pair draw inquisitive looks from adults and the envy of other children as they wander the streets. At one point the balloon enters Pascal’s classroom, causing an uproar from the other students. The noise alerts the principal, who becomes angry with Pascal and locks him up in his office until school is over. At another, Pascal and his balloon encounter a little girl (Sabine Lamorisse) with a blue balloon that also seems to have a mind of its own.
In their wanderings around the neighborhood, Pascal and the balloon encounter a gang of bullies, who are envious of his balloon, and they soon destroy his new friend.
The film ends as the other balloons in Paris come to Pascal’s aid and take him on a cluster balloon ride over the city as the narrator states that other balloons took Pascal up to a magical world where balloons and children can be friends forever.